GROUPS of youngsters crashed cymbals and plucked strings last week to win a place in a competition that will see them performing at the Royal Festival Hall.

Students from various schools met in Aldershot to take part in Europe's biggest youth music festival.

The Connaught School hosted the regional event as part of the Music for Youth Festival series. More than 40,000 young musicians will perform in the 51 regional events throughout England and Wales.

Successful groups will be selected from the regional competitions to appear at the Royal Festival Hall in July.

Some will also be invited to perform at the Youth Proms in November at the Royal Albert Hall.

Wendy Brett, head of music, has worked at The Connaught School for 12 years, and this year she organised her eighth regional series of the national competition.

She said: "It was wonderful. We had approximately 1,000 young people performing in different groups from around Hampshire and Surrey.

"The standard of music was fantastic. There were so many different styles of music being played, it was just outstanding.

"It's an opportunity for children to play together. The atmosphere was absolutely electric and the kids were so excited."

Mrs Brett, who works together with Simon Wild of the Hampshire Music Service, has spent many hours organising the event so that the children have a chance to perform with others from around the county.

She said: "To give the children the opportunity to perform in an event like this is fantastic. We just think it's worth the work, even though we're exhausted by the end of it.

"It's worth it for all of them. We had a full hall the whole day. They were all there — parents, grandparents — it was a great day."

Our picture shows The Pegasus Singers performing in the Music for Youth event at The Connaught School in Aldershot.